I was raised by a toothless bearded hag...I was schooled with a strap
---- screeeeetch ----
OK, "Jumping Jack Flash" I am not, and I really do not want to misrepresent my mother. But I have to be honest and admit I was raised in a rather poisonous environment with respect to tolerance towards others. While I love my family, I generally do not like them.
(This is a characterization that I find difficult, since I have always had a large amount of derision for attitudes such as "I love him/her, but I'm not 'in love' with him/her"...and here I am saying just about the same damn thing about my family. But the truth is I can't be proud of a lot of the things I saw and heard growing up.)
This diary was prompted by an article I saw on Slate discussing some of the Law Enforcement issues going on in my adopted state of Florida. Specifically the reaction of the Escambia county sheriff to the scrutiny on his force after a couple high profile incidents.
A commenter said something about a lot of the racists he went to HS with in the late 1960's went in to Law Enforcement. I replied:
"My older siblings went to HS in the very late 60's and early 70's, and every last one of them is racist. None are in LE, but it's probably just a side effect from the times. Except that they've had a better than 50% success rate in creating bigoted kids.
My dad was a horrible bigot. While he had many qualities I like to emulate, there are
many qualities he had that I dread might come out in me."
I was raised in an environment where bigotry of all sorts was accepted. With a casual shrug and a condescending calculus, people would routinely say racist and bigoted things, the calibrate their future comments taking into account those they would either grace with their presence or be forced to socialize with. It was not uncommon to hear people talk in the most horrible and stereotypical ways about their neighbors, or supposed friends, just because of their religion/skin color/ethnicity...the whole gamut of prejudices. And then they would waive off their insult immediately when talking about Xxxx (the colored mechanic my dad worked with), or the Yyyy's, a Jewish family at the end of the other dead end road in the sub-division. That family, whom I was good friends with their son, worked 7 days a week (the weekday job in the garment shipping business, and schlepping at flea markets Saturday and Sunday). While they were religious, they were not "in-your-face" (whatever that is supposed to mean) about it. My friend's father never tried to talk to me about religion, although D-- and I often had wide ranging talks about the subject. But when I came home from working a flea market with the Yyyy's on a Saturday or Sunday, trying to be a good young citizen and work hard making some extra money, it was back to "the Jews are destroying world! They've been in control for centuries!" Oh, but the Yyyy's are good people, Ed.
My wife doesn't understand why I am not close to my family, as she is very close to hers. But even her family is showing the strains of our severely polarized modern society. Her two older sisters have not talked for years, and may never again speak. It tears my wife up, but she understands that this reality. But even with that example of how close family members can be torn apart, she just does not understand how I feel about the environment I was brought up in.
When it came to actually living up to the standards that were claimed to be sacred, there was a profound gap between expectations and reality.
"America! F-yeah!" "My country, right or wrong!" Rah rah rah. But I remember hearing my older sisters and brother talk about people they knew who might get drafted for Vietnam, and how going to Canada was a viable option. But next moment these people were singing the national anthem or reciting the pledge of allegiance.
After the jingoism, we can get to the highly touted Christian ideals juxtaposed with this cesspool of bigotry, as my mom had a severely religious side. As a 20 year old, I was spending summer home from college and began dating a girl who professed no religion. My brother chastised me in jest - "Ed - the man who fell from grace! Dating a pagan!" Well, she really wasn't "no religion", she was actually Jewish, but her family did not practice. That probably did not help the situation with my mother. Later in the summer a teen-aged son of one of my dad's co-workers accidentally drowned, and I was upset by what I heard the Priest say at the funeral. When I finally talked to mom a few days later, I told her that I thought given my age, I really should not be expected to go to Church anymore with her and my father. I got the theme and variation off of the refrains "what? I thought you were my most religious child!" and "I think that your association lately with * has been a bad influence on you".
So somehow, as I approach 48 years old, I came out as a liberal. A lurker here before joining about a year and a half ago, I was prompted by taking an online social/economic political policy quiz that was linked in the comments of some diary. I came out somewhere near a -5/-5. Up to that point I thought I was a "moderate", but after taking that quiz I realized I am a liberal. My score landed up in the same general area as Gandhi and the Dali Lama.
And it's kind of ironic that 2 religious men fall into the same general political philosophy as I do, since I was probably never my mother's "most religious child". But I always was her most scientific child. Maybe that's the thread?